About the programme
Language: English (See language requirements)  | Place of study: Aarhus  |  Commencement: August / September (no winter intake)


Human Security is a unique Master’s degree programme and the first of its kind in Europe. During two years of cross-disciplinary studies, you achieve a deeper understanding of conflicts around the world and learn about different approaches to human security. As emphasized by the United Nations Development Programme, human security is multi-dimensional, and we cannot separate economic, food, health, environmental, personal, community and political security. Therefore, you learn how to analyse and intervene in this complex network of interwoven social, economic and political factors. The Master’s programme is directed by the Department of Anthropology, and located at Campus Moesgaard south of Aarhus city. The programme is active on social media: Programme community site, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Challenging conventional understandings of security

During recent years, the concept of ’human security’ has become a rallying point for understanding and working with processes of (human) development in unstable environments marked by social and environmental conflicts. Particularly the growing challenges posed by global environmental changes threaten to trigger a rapid escalation of conflicts throughout the world as competition over access to scarce resources intensifies, supplies of essential commodities dwindle and global population rates continue to increase. Thus human security is more than the absence of physical aggression; it is about freedom from fear, but also about freedom from want and a life with dignity. As a cross-disciplinary development approach, the MA in human security addresses not only various forms of militarized and physical security; it also includes secure access to water, food, land and education.

Strong competencies and future job opportunities

The MA in human security is unique in that the programme takes a holistic approach to development in a changing natural and social world. The competencies that this Master’s programme give you are in demand, both now and in the future. The human security programme prepares graduates for employment opportunities in various contexts including national and international NGOs, governmental development organisations, UN organisations (e.g. UNHCR or UNDP), and development consultancies.

Highly qualified lectures from 3 departments at Aarhus University

During the Master’s programme in Human Security you will study and work with students from Denmark and abroad. Furthermore, you will achieve expert knowledge and skills from both social and natural scientists who have practical work experience in relation to environmental and development issues around the world. The Master's programme is a collaboration between School of Culture and Society and Science and Technology and involves the following departments:

Besides the affiliated research staff at Aarhus University, highly competent visiting lecturers will contribute to the teaching throughout the two-year Master’s programme.

The Master’s degree programme in human security counts as two years of full-time study (120 ECTS credits). 

Read, print and be inspired

Download and print a short presentation of the MSc in Human Security programme 2019

See video introduction

Admission requirements

A completed Bachelor's degree with a minimum of 90 ECTS points of study within social science or environment-related studies is required for admission to the Master's degree programme in human security.

The following Bachelor's degrees are sufficient for admission to the Master's degree programme in human security:

  • Bachelor's degree in biology (Aarhus University (AU). University of Southern Denmark (SDU), Aalborg University (AAU), University of Copenhagen (KU))
  • Bachelor's degree in geography (AAU, KU)
  • Bachelor’s degree in agriculture, food and environment (AU)
  • Bachelor's degree in anthropology (AU, KU)
  • Bachelor's degree in political science (AU, KU, SDU)
  • Bachelor's degree in sociology (AAU, KU)
  • Bachelor’s degree in sociology and cultural analysis (SDU)
  • Bachelor’s degree in town, energy and environmental planning (AAU)
  • Bachelor’s degree in environmental and resource management (SDU)
  • Bachelor's degree in natural resources (KU)
  • Bachelor's degree in food science (KU)
  • Bachelor's degree in agricultural economics (KU)

Other qualifications can provide admission to the Master’s degree programme, provided the university assesses that their level, extent and content correspond to the degrees mentioned above.


The Master's degree programme in human security is taught in English and therefore requires applicants to have passed English at 'B' level or equivalent.

Language requirements

Since English is the language of instruction in all subjects, all applicants are required to provide evidence of their English language proficiency. 

Read how to document your language qualifications

Number of seats offered

40 (This number is a guideline only and may be subject to change by the university.)

Selection Criteria

As the Master’s programme only admits 40 students each year meeting the admission requirements does not in itself guarantee admission to the programme.

In evaluating qualified applicants, the admissions committee assesses each applicant on the basis of the following criteria:

1. Academic background (75%)

  • Average mark (i.e. GPA) – Bachelor’s degree (25%)
  • Average mark (i.e. GPA)– relevant courses within social sciences and/or environmental studies (25%)
  • The number of relevant courses within social sciences and/or environmental studies (measured in ECTS) included in your Bachelor’s degree (25%)

Please note that marks/grades obtained after the time of application will not be included in the GPA.

The admissions committee assesses each applicant on the basis of the information provided by diplomas, transcripts, course descriptions/academic regulations (curricula) and the statement of relevance.

2. Other relevant experience within the field of development, environmental analysis and/or conflict analysis and management (25%)

  • Relevant work experience
  • International, cultural or organizational experience

The admissions committee assesses each applicant on the basis of the information provided by the CV, Statement of relevance and other relevant documentation.


In addition to the general documentation requirements, you must upload the following documentation to your application:

  • Statement of relevance: A brief statement in English (1-2 pages) outlining your motivation for attending this MA programme. The statement should explain:
    • The relevance of your BA degree (and the individual courses) in relation to the Masters programme in Human Security
    • Your career plans
    • Relevant work experience
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV) describing your relevant educational and work experience in chronological order.

Programme structure

Academic regulations

As a student it is important to know the regulations for your chosen subject: what is the content, how is it structured and what does it require from you. You can find this information in the academic regulations.

In the following graphical presentation of the subject you can see the different modules and courses that, in addition, link to the course catalogue where you can read the course descriptions.



Which Bachelor’s degree (BA) will give me direct access to the Master’s programme in Human Security?

  • The short answer is none! The long answer is: Each application that meets the academic requirements for admission (see below) goes through an academic assessment. There is a restricted admission of 40 students to the Master’s programme, starting September 1 every year.
  • Basically, to fulfill the academic requirements for admission your Bachelor’s degree has to contain 90 ECTS-credits within the field(s) of ‘Society and development-related studies (e.g. political science, sociology, anthropology, development studies or the like) and/or environment-related studies (e.g. biology, geography, agricultural science or the like) - and you will need to fulfill the English language request (read the general admission requirements).
  • Furthermore, when selecting the 40 most qualified candidates among the applicants that fulfil the academic requirements for admission, there will be an emphasis on practical work experience (e.g. experience within the field of development or environmental analysis) and the applicant’s statement of relevance. We value to have students with various backgrounds, and previously we have also enrolled students with a military career. Read more about documentation here.

Notice that for Danish applicants with a Danish BA there is a concrete list of Bachelor’s degrees from Danish Universities which qualify directly for the academic assessment. See the academic regulations.

How do I know if my Bachelor’s degree (BA) fit the admission requirements?

To qualify for an academic assessment - besides the English language request - you will need 90 ECTS-credits within either ‘society and development-related studies’ or ‘environment-related studies’ (see answer to the first question). If your BA doesn’t fulfil the admission requirements you might be able to supplement e.g. with an elective subject or a ’course taken ‘during daytime’, Such Single Subject Courses requires payment of a tuition fee – read more here

During my academic career I have studied in English, do I need to take a TOEFL or IELTS test?

According to the Danish Ministry of Science's Order no 181 of 23 February 2010 on Admission to Danish Universities, all applicants with non-Danish examinations to Master's programmes taught in English must document English language qualifications comparable to an 'English B level' in the Danish upper secondary school ('gymnasium'). You don’t need a TOEFL or IELTS test if you have an English-taught entrance examination (upper secondary school/high school) or Bachelor’s degree as documentation.

Can I apply for a scholarship at Aarhus University?

You can’t apply for a scholarship at Aarhus University. You can only be nominated through your application for admission for a Master's programme. Read more here.

I am not sure which papers should be included in my application, and what is meant by a 'certified copy'?

Find out what to include in your application here. At the same page you will find more information about the ‘certified copy’ (e.g. of your exam papers) which require original stamps and signatures as proof of its authenticity.

Still in doubt? Contact the student guidance service here

I have done some volunteer work for a NGO, how is practical experience valued? 

In the selection of the 40 most qualified candidates among the applicants who fulfil the admission requirements the main emphasis is on the applicant’s academic background (75 %). However, practical experience counts as well (25 %). 

What is the maximum number of students each year?

Each year a maximum of 40 full-degree students will be admitted to the Master’s programme in Human Security. In case of free slots other students will have the possibility to choose single courses as electives. 

Student life

The Master's degree programme in human security targets students with an international academic profile or who are interested in an international career. Human Security is based at Moesgaard – an old manor house located just south of Aarhus. Here you have access to a library, a common room, the Moesgaard Museum and beautiful countryside.

Your fellow students come from a wide range of academic backgrounds and countries. This creates a lively and colourful study environment which encourages engagement initiative and involvement.

We make sure you get to know your fellow students well from the very beginning and plan an introduction comprising both study-related and social events that promote a pleasant and supportive study environment.

In addition to the events relating to human security, there are many other activities around the university you can participate in. You can see a small selection of future events on the university's joint calendar. You are also welcome to participate in other activities such as lectures, regattas and Friday bars.


Student-to-student is your opportunity to ask about being a student at the Faculty of Arts and about Aarhus and Denmark in general to another international student who has already taken the leap and now lives in Denmark and studies for his/her Master's degree at the Faculty of Arts.

You can read more about the student-to-student service and find the list of AU international student ambassadors at Arts here

The University Park campus – a unique place

The main Aarhus University campus is unique, with buildings closely grouped together and surrounded by nature. The campus is conveniently situated close to the city centre, and student accommodation is readily available as long as you apply on time. There are a range of activities, ranging from running to regatta on the lake, as well as guest lectures, film screenings, and university events taking place throughout the year. To ensure student well-being, counselling services are available for students, to offer support and guidance during their time at Aarhus. Read more about the study environment at Aarhus University.  

Aarhus as a city

As the second-largest city in Denmark, Aarhus is a young and dynamic place with plenty of opportunities. The 40,000 students at the university make up 17.5% of the city’s population, which leaves its mark on city life. An attractive feature of Aarhus is that there are beaches and woods a short bike-ride away, as well as cultural events taking place throughout the year, including the Aarhus Festival in September. The theatres in the city and the ARoS international art museum offer many events that enable you to experience the Danish culture.

Why choose Aarhus? See and get all practical information about being an international student. 

Colm Power, student at the Human Security programme

The general atmosphere among students and professors is simply great and there is a unique spirit within the group of Human Security students. As a political scientist I expected a stronger focus on national and international policies. The anthropological approach of the programme opened up a totally new and different angle to me and to my understanding of environmental challenges.


Follow the student life at Aarhus University

-experienced, photographed and filmed by the students themselves.

With thousands of pictures #yourniversity gives insight into the everyday life as a student at AU; the parties, procrastination, exams and all the other ways you’ll spend your time at university.


The photos belong to the users, shared with #Yourniversity, #AarhusUni and course-specific AU-hashtags.


Jobs and careers

With the title Master of Social Sciences in Human Security, you are qualified to work with topics of special relevance to developing countries. The human security programme is  internationally oriented and prepares graduates for careers in NGOs, government aid organisations, UN organisations and private consultancy firms that administer and implement development and disaster aid.

As a graduate of the programme, you will be qualified to work with:

  • Project and programme management
  • Review, evaluation and strategy analysis
  • Policy development
  • Research

Competence profile

The Master’s degree programme provides the following qualifications and competences:

  • Expertise in the critical evaluation of texts involving environmental analysis, anthropology and social science theories as well as detailed empirical studies.
  • The ability to carry out an informed and critical analytical assessment of human and environmental safety.
  • The ability to apply both science and social science approaches to the understanding of conflict and environment analysis and the ability to combine the approaches in real-life contexts.
  • The ability to establish scientific arguments or theories at a high academic level and adopt a critical approach to the inherent methodological and theoretical assumptions.
  • The tools required to communicate research results in both academic and non-academic contexts, orally as well as in writing.
  • Knowledge and ability to apply qualitative and quantitative methodologies when carrying out investigations relating to environment and conflict analysis.
  • The ability to produce new knowledge about complex contexts that influence environment and conflict analysis in a global context.
  • The necessary skills to take part in multidisciplinary international teams and to carry out project work, including the design of projects that comply with specific guidelines.
  • A multidisciplinary, solution-oriented approach that is open to new ideas, techniques, methodologies and points of view.

Job opportunities and human security

“There's a great need for a degree programme like Human Security with graduates who are able to analyse ‘human security’ in relation to conflicts, environment and climate change. (…) Human security graduates will be able to find employment within a wide range of companies, organisations, Danish and foreign governmental organisations as well as multilateral organisations, where they can work as generalists, specialists, consultants, analysts or advisors in the implementation process.”

Anders Baltzer Jørgensen, Danida 

With a Master’s degree programme in Human Security there are plenty of opportunities to get a job after graduation. If you are interested in working with human rights, there are many NGOS If you are interested in working with human rights, there are many NGOs that work with humanitarian projects, e.g. the Red Cross, the Danish Refugee Council, CARE, IBIS and many more.

Perhaps you are more interested in international organisations such as the UNDP, UNICEF or the World Bank, or perhaps aid to the developing world is what interests you most. If so, organisations like Danida, Norad and USAID can use you. It is also possible to work for ministries of the environment or conflict handling bodies where you work for government authorities handling aid distribution, for example.

The many companies dealing with human security also offer opportunities for focusing on food safety, natural resources and climate change in Africa or for working for companies like VedvarendeEnergi, QualiTree or Undesert. Regardless of your field of interest, there is no doubt you will be able to use everything you learn.

PhD programme

You have the option of applying for admission to the PhD programme at the faculty’s Graduate School. You can apply when you have completed your Bachelor’s degree and one year of your Master’s degree studies or when you have completed your Master’s degree. For more information about PhD degree programmes at Aarhus University, click here.

Alumni network

When you graduate, you can become a part of the alumni network for Human Security, and you can also join the alumni association for the entire Aarhus University. 

Read more about the alumni association Gerda and its events and other offers.

Career Guidance

Please contact the Student Counselling Office for advice about employment opportunities and the subject profile options of your degree programme.

You can read more about the career services that are available from Arts Karriere who provide information about employment opportunities as well as arranging various events and workshops.  


In the third semester you have an opportunity to incorporate a study period abroad (fieldwork/work placement). You therefore get an opportunity to get out and experience what you can do with your degree programme and at the same time establish an international network in addition to your existing study network.

Remember that it takes time to plan a study period abroad. Therefore, it is a good idea to begin your planning when you start your degree programme. Feel free to contact the International Centre, talk to the international student guidance officer for the degree programme or write to the Student Guidance Office at the Department of Culture and Society.